Friday, December 4, 2015

PlayGround-LA's Xmas Homage to Hitchcock

“What is drama but life with the dull bits cut out.” – Alfred Hitchcock. PlayGround-LA continues its fourth season and celebrated monthly staged reading series, Monday Night PlayGround, on December 14 at the Zephyr Theatre with six original short plays inspired by this month’s topic… A VERY MERRY HITCHCOCK CHRISTMAS. Los Angeles-based playwrights in the PlayGround-LA Writers Pool have four-and-a-half days to write and submit scripts inspired by the topic. The six finalists will be presented as script-in-hand staged readings at 8pm on December 14. For tickets, low-cost flex passes or for more information, the public can call (323) 992-6766 or go online at

Ten days before the designated Monday, a topic is announced and the thirty-six playwrights in the PlayGround-LA Writers Pool have until 2pm the following Tuesday to submit a short script. A panel of judges selects six winners, whose entries are cast over the weekend and then rehearsed with the area’s best professional actors and directors in a whirlwind ninety minutes each before being performed as script-in-hand staged readings. Previous topics include “Origin Story”, “Sea-Change”, “Holiday Spirit”, “I Have A Dream...”, and last month’s “Presidential”.

PlayGround-LA is the first regional expansion of the celebrated Bay Area playwright incubator and theatre community hub, PlayGround(SF). PlayGround was launched in San Francisco in 1994 by co-founders Jim Kleinmann, Brighde Mullins and Denise Shama. In 1996, Kleinmann became PlayGround’s first Artistic Director. Since its founding, PlayGround has developed and staged over 750 original ten-minute plays by 250 Bay Area and Los Angeles early-career writers and has commissioned/developed 60 full-length plays by distinguished PlayGround alumni. In the process of staging those works, PlayGround has helped to identify some of the leading emerging writers and, at the same time, has engendered the creation of a true community of theatre artists, bringing together hundreds of local actors, directors and playwrights. For most if not all of the participating writers, PlayGround is the first professional staging their work has received and serves as their introduction into the professional theatre community.

The PlayGround-LA 2015-16 Writers Pool are: Megan Breen*, Ron Burch*, Tiffany Cascio*, Kathleen Cecchin*, Allie Costa*, Vincent Terrell Durham*, Jennifer Fawcett, Lauren Gorski, Forrest Hartl*, Elayne Heilveil, Howard Ho, Velina Hasu Houston, Karen Howes, Susan Hunter, Julianne Jigour, Ian Kaye, Arthur Keng, Eric Krueger, Jonathan Kuhn, Aurelio Locsin, Dana Lyman, Jennifer Maisel, Laura McGhee, Alison Minami, Tracy Potter, Jordan Rawlins, Carolina Rojas*, Jessica Rowe, Mercedes Segsevary*, Jesse Shao, Mark Sherstinsky*, Nicki Spencer, Ann-Giselle Spiegler, Chelsea Sutton, Jennie Webb*, JP Williams * Best of PlayGround Award recipient

PlayGround and PlayGround-LA’s alumni have gone on to win local, national and international honors for their short and full-length work, including recognition at the Humana Festival, Sundance Festival, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, New York International Fringe Festival, Aurora Theatre Company’s Global Age Project, and Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival, among others. Directors and actors participating in PlayGround are among some of the most distinguished theatre professionals, regularly working on leading local stages.

For more information, visit or follow PlayGround on Facebook ( and Twitter (

PlayGround-LA’s Monday Night PlayGround is

WHAT: Six original short plays by L.A.’s best new dramatists, inspired by the topic “A Very Merry Hitchcock Christmas”

WHEN: December 14, 2015 at 8pm

WHERE: Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, California 90046

HOW: (323) 992-6766  or

ADVANCE TICKETS: $20, priority seating; $15, general admission; $10, student admission with ID. $20 general admission tickets at the door beginning one hour before the performance, subject to availability. 4-admission priority-seating flex passes are $60.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

November People's Choice Award

The people have spoken... The November People's Choice Award goes to Mark Sherstinsky for his short play, Amber’s Outgoing, presented as a staged reading at Monday Night PlayGround on November 9 at the Zephyr Theatre. Congratulations, Mark!

Courtesy of Mr. Sherstinsky, we're pleased to share the first two pages from the award-winning script. Enjoy!

by Mark Sherstinsky


AMBER                                  female, 20s to 30s, any race

ABE LINCOLN                     male, 30s to 50s, caucasian
MILLARD FILLMORE          male, 30s to 50s, caucasian

Lights up on AMBER, who is center stage and dialing numbers on her cell phone keypad, pausing briefly between each dial to carefully listen to the voicemail recording menu instructions.

(Finally speaking into phone)  Hi!...(Beat)…You've reached Amber!  I’m not available to take your call right now, but please leave a message.   And I’ll get back to you right away.   Promise!...(Beat…takes phone away from face…to self, frustrated)…Stupid!  Ugh.  God.  So Stupid…(mocking self)…Promise!

AMBER dials the series of numbers again to access her outgoing voicemail recording.

AMBER (cont)
(Deep breath) Hi!  This is Amber.  I’m away from my phone right now.  But if you leave me a message, I’ll call you at a convenient time.  Thanks so much.  Bye…(Beat…to self)…At a convenient time?  What the fuck!?  Stupid!  Stupid, Amber!  Who says that?

AMBER dials again.

AMBER (cont)
Hi.  It’s Amber, and you’ve reached my cell phone.  Thanks so much for calling.  I can’t answer the phone right now, but if you leave a detailed message with your name and phone number, I’ll call you back as soon as possible.  Thank you, and have a great day!..(Beat…puts phone away, in despair)

AMBER recovers and starts dialing again.  ABE LINCOLN enters.


(Big startled scream)  Ahhh!...Oh god you scared the fucking shit out of me, motherfucker!

My apologies.  It was not my intention.

Who the hell are you?

(Beat) I’m Abraham Lincoln.

(Laughs) Okay.  That’s creepy, man.  You don’t just sneak up on a person and then tell them you’re Abraham Lincoln.  (Beat, a little scared) What do you want?

To help you with your insurmountable problem.

ABE LINCOLN approaches AMBER but stops as she speaks.

Look, back the fuck away right now before I lose my shit…(Indicating her phone)…I’m calling the police.

No need for the militia.  Please, calm yourself.  You do understand who I am? 

(Studies ABRAHAM LINCOLN’s face, beat, speaking to phone) Siri, google images of Abraham Lincoln.  (He bears a striking resemblance) You’re shitting me, right?

(Thinks about this turn of phrase) I’ve never and would never do that to another person.  I’ve been watching you labor away, and you’re simply amazing—.

Watching me?!

(approaches AMBER) Your steadfasteness, you’re doggedness, unmatched in anyone I’ve seen since Ulysses Grant or Henry Clay, or perhaps Thaddeus Stevens—


Join us for the next Monday Night PlayGround on Monday, December 14, at the Zephyr Theatre and choose your own favorite. Click here for more info.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

October People's Choice Award

The people have spoken... The October People's Choice Award goes to Jessica Rowe for her short play, Thirst, presented as a staged reading at the Monday Night PlayGround season opener/Planet Earth Arts New Play Festival on October 19 at the Zephyr Theatre. Congratulations, Jessica!

Courtesy of Ms. Rowe, we're pleased to share the first two pages from the award-winning script. Enjoy!

by Jessica Rowe

The Desert.

Cutter – Male – Age 50+ – Any race – Bitter, paranoid, haggard. Dressed in rags.
Avani – Female – Age 10 – Any race – Innocent, yet streetwise. (Actress can be older, but should look and act as young as possible.)
Larissa – Female – Age 30+ – Same race as Avani – Regal, hardened woman.

Night. Darkness. A single light shines down on CUTTER, sitting on the ground next to a blanket. He holds a gun. His head hangs heavy. He coughs, throat dry. He looks around, cautious, then pulls the blanket aside, revealing a hole in the ground: a shallow well. He dips his hand down, cups water and drinks. He savors each drop. Then—A NOISE. He jumps up, lifts his gun. He kicks the blanket back over the hole.

Who’s there? (pause) I heard you, I know you’re there! Come out or I’ll swear to God start shooting—don’t think I won’t!

More noise. Cutter points his gun at the sound, where—AVANI enters, takes a few steps toward him. Stops. Cutter does not lower his gun.

Shit. You shouldn’t be here, girl. You need to get outta here.

Avani turns to go.

Wait—don’t move! I said don’t move!

She stops.

Turn around. That’s right. Do what I say. Don’t think I won’t kill a girl—I have before. I don’t want. Don’t make me do that. Come here.

She takes a few steps closer, slowly, wary.

What did you see? Tell me.


Don’t lie! I heard you out there. You saw it, didn’t you?

He steps closer, threatening her. She nods.

Yes. Sorry!

Shit. Shit. How old are you?


Where’s your family? How far away are they?

I don’t have a family.

Don’t lie, girl. No way could a kid make it this far into the desert alone.

They’re dead.

(Suspicious) You sure?

Pretty sure.

How’d they die?

Fightin over a tanker.

When was that?

Long time ago.

(Suspicious) Where?

(Annoyed) Long way away. I’ve been walkin forever. I’m thirsty.

Join us for the next Monday Night PlayGround on Monday, December 14, at the Zephyr Theatre and choose your own favorite. Click here for more info.

Friday, November 6, 2015

PlayGround-LA Company in the News Nov-15

See what PlayGround-LA Writers are up to as we prepare for the November 9 round of Monday Night PlayGround.

Jennifer Maisel’s new play, @thespeedofJake (a Kilroy honorable mention for 2015), with original music by Howard Ho, is premiering with Playwrights Arena at Atwater Village Theatre on November 14th.  Tickets at  Discount code is SOCCER for some performances.

Tiffany Cascio’s play POPCAST, originally developed at PlayGround-LA, was produced for the radio by Shoestring Radio Theatre. It will be posted on their website November 18th and will air on 111 radio stations in 34 states shortly after.

Velina Hasu Houston has been commissioned by Playwrights’ Arena in association with Center Theatre Group to pen a new play for The Hotel Play, a collaborative play that includes playwrights Paula L. Cizmar, Laurie Woolery, Nahal Navidar, Julie Taiwo Oni, Janine Salinas Schoenberg, and Madhuri Shekar.  Jon Lawrence Rivera, Artistic Director of Playwrights’ Arena, is directing. She has also been commissioned by The Pasadena Playhouse to pen the book for a new musical about the two-time Grammy Award-winning band, Ozomatli.  The project currently is in process.

Forrest Hartl’s No One Wants To Admit They're A Hipster, first written for PlayGround-LA, will premiere at Future Tenant's ten minute play festival this month (Pittsburgh, PA)

Jennie Webb's CURRENCY is being workshopped through LA's Inkwell Theater Development LAB, directed by Annie McVey. CURRENCY is a love story set in changing times of overextended trust and inflated intimacy. After sharing a night of unexpected romance, a 40-something couple is waylaid by even more surprises and left searching for value in a world that’s moving way too fast. Info:

Karen Howes’ GENTLEMAN’S PACT is in the GLO Festival produced by GreenLight Productions (Thursday - Sunday) from Nov 5-15 in Santa Monica which features 5 women playwrights and 5 women directors.

Vincent Terrell Durham will be presenting a stage reading of his new play, The Fertile River, on November 15th.  The talented Miss Telma Hopkins leads the production as Mama Cora.

Allie Costa will be singing at the Rockwell on November 14th as part of FutureFest. Her play Don't Shoot the Messenger Pigeon, originally developed at PlayGround-LA, is currently traveling through Florida with Gypsy Stage Rep. Her play A New Year, also inspired by PlayGround, will debut at the Charles Stewart Howard Playhouse in Los Angeles this December, while Walking After Midnight will premiere at the Queensbury Theatre in Houston.